Friday, November 19, 2010

Beyond Karma and Rebirth: Humanity and 'Heaven's Destiny'

The practice of restricting one's attention from the various outer forms of change, karma, and instead orienting oneself to the unchanging self in its immediate relations reveals this our immediate circumstance as our Ming , or Heaven's Destiny. Instead of being filled with the desire of manipulating outside change one begins the process of contentment. One learns to be content in any situation because one has a sense of inner value. One has a sense of inner worth and a sense of the value of one's actions. When restriction becomes habitual, normal, the scholar will begin to see any situation in its potential for harmony. This scholar will strain and fight to escape in an attempt to leap out from propriety. Instead the scholar will seek to gain a true understanding of his/ her situation, learning about the relation of the situation to the true self. What was formerly seen as a field for benefiting selfish desire, as the so called inferior person would, is now seen as a field for establishing harmony, practicing virtue and right action, as the superior person. This virtue is action from seeing reality from the true mind. This is the antithesis of the desire mind that misses reality seeing only the development of changing desires.
If we focus on the unchanging true nature that each of us possess, that can be accessed at any given moment, that illuminates desire as illusory then we can be infinitely encouraged. This is part of why Confucius emphasized humanity. Through the cultivation of humanity, propriety, and filial piety, Confucius shows us that we each can learn the significance of our own position, our "Ming". Confucius did not emphasize nearly impossible tasks that only recluses and hermits could achieve, but the simple cultivation of our most common daily relationships. Through the practice of restriction, or restraint, we can begin to see the vast wisdom in the simplicity of Confucian philosophy. Through restriction we begin to see the importance of our daily affairs and relations. Confucius, and subsequently much of Chinese philosophy, has helped illuminate the simple and clear way to live successfully within change. This way is to practice our philosophy in the field that will never change; the field of humanity, of our social relationships, and of our daily affairs. The cultivation of understanding the unchanging will allow us to face any change. If we restrain the desire that seeks to manipulate change, seeking a better "rebirth", and instead attempt to harmonize with change through propriety, we can transcend change, and time. The unique unchanging quality of humanity will become the foundation from which we can better understand the changes around us. Restriction that allows us to focus on our own action, or non-action, in our immediate life can allow us the spiritual energy to deepen our understanding of our relationship to the unchanging within and around us.
The repetition of restriction gradually illumines manifestations of our relationship to ourselves. As we end the pursuit of desire, we return to our immediate life. As we cease giving energy to manipulating outer change, we have excess energy to see our daily lives with clarity. The force of karma is the force of repetition. If we continue to seek outer change, without a deeper understanding of the forces which most directly influence us, we will repeatedly suffer the same mistakes and misfortunes. When we begin to seek within our own orientation toward our own actions we can "rectify our minds" and avoid these mistakes, avoid the repetition of misfortune. It is in this sense the outer force of karma is totally is illusory, because the force that we must understand for deep transformation, true change, is our relationship to ourselves.

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